In an offseason jammed with news about Yankee catchers - Jorge Posada shifting to designated hitter, the addition of Russell Martin, the outsized potential of Jesus Montero and Austin Romine - Francisco Cervelli was the forgotten backstop.While this is certainly a standard piece of offseason filler, it is a bit more valuable than your average "best shape of my life" byte. It's good to see that Cervelli's on the field exuberance is matched by his motivations off the field, and it's even better to see that Cano is willing to take on such a role - particularly considering the past rumors of his laziness and lack of enthusiasm.
But Cervelli, last year's backup who is renowned for his effervescent spirit, is OK with that. He says his goal is to eventually be a starter, and the best way for him to have a job in the majors this season is to "concentrate on myself.
"I can't control what the general manager's decision is or the manager's decision," Cervelli said Wednesday after his first workout at the Yanks' minor-league complex. "I've just got to do my job on the field and they decide what to do on the field. I came here fresh and I just want to play baseball like I play, have fun and give everything to my team.
"If they have plans with them, that's fine. They know what I can do."
He added, "I don't like to be comfortable, I always want to learn, learn, learn. I want to be one day a starting catcher or (win) a Gold Glove, something like a Molina brother. That's my dream."
For Cervelli, who turns 25 next month, the big news of his offseason is that he spent most of it training with pal Robinson Cano in the Dominican Republic. Cervelli arrived in the Dominican on Dec. 1 and lived in a hotel near Cano's house so the two could meet for daily workouts.
It was a plan Cano hatched during the season last year, Cervelli said. "He's trying to help me," Cervelli said. "He's got a good disposition to teach...good friend, good teacher."
Asked what he learned, Cervelli, a .271 hitter last year, laughed and said, "I tried to learn a little bit how you can hit the ball." Seriously, though, Cervelli said Cano helped him learn how to better use his hips while swinging. And Cano's fitness routine helped him shed fat.
"He knows I like to work," Cervelli said. "I had fun there, too. Everything was unbelievable, good people, his family, his staff.
Cervelli also appreciated watching Cano work. "He's one of the guys who never stops," Cervelli said. "He taught me how to work better."
And, Cervelli said, "He's always smiling, man."
So is Cervelli, and he'll keep the grin if he can keep his job.
As it stands, Cervelli is a fine back-up catcher - and RAB demonstrated that he may be an excellent back-up, as well as an average starter for many teams. If working with Cano adds a bit more 'oomph' to Cervelli's bat, then the Yankees wealth of catching talent will me all the more enviable.